Dark galaxy

A dark galaxy is a hypothesized galaxy with no, or very few, stars. They received their name because they have no visible stars,[1] but may be detectable if they contain significant amounts of gas. Astronomers have long theorized the existence of dark galaxies, but there are no confirmed examples to date.[2] Dark galaxies are distinct from intergalactic gas clouds caused by galactic tidal interactions, since these gas clouds do not contain dark matter, so they do not technically qualify as galaxies. Distinguishing between intergalactic gas clouds and galaxies is difficult; most candidate dark galaxies turn out to be tidal gas clouds.[3] The best candidate dark galaxies to date include HI1225+01,[4] AGC229385,[5] and numerous gas clouds detected in studies of quasars.

On 25 August 2016, astronomers reported that Dragonfly 44, an ultra diffuse galaxy (UDG) with the mass of the Milky Way galaxy, but with nearly no discernable stars or galactic structure, may be made almost entirely of dark matter.[6][7][8]

Observational evidence

Large surveys with sensitive, but low resolution radio telescopes like Arecibo or the Parkes Telescope look for 21 cm emission from atomic hydrogen in galaxies. These surveys are then matched to optical surveys to identify any objects with no optical counterpart, i.e. sources with no stars.

Another way astronomers search for dark galaxies is to look for hydrogen absorption lines in the spectra of background quasars. This technique has revealed many intergalactic clouds of hydrogen, but following up candidate dark galaxies is difficult, since these sources tend to be too far away, and are often optically drowned out by the bright light from the quasar.

Nature of dark galaxy


In 2005, astronomers found gas cloud VIRGOHI21 and attempted to determine what it was and why it caused such a gravitational pull on galaxy NGC 4254. After years of running out of other explanations, some have concluded that VIRGOHI21 is a dark galaxy, due to the massive effect it had on NGC 4254.[9]


The actual size of dark galaxies is unknown because they cannot be observed with normal telescopes. There have been various estimations, ranging from double the size of the Milky Way[10] to the size of a small quasar.


Dark galaxies are composed of dark matter. Furthermore, dark galaxies are theoretically composed of hydrogen and dust.[9] Some scientists support the idea that dark galaxies may contain stars.[11] Yet the exact composition of dark galaxies is unknown because there is no conclusive way to spot them so far. However, astronomers estimate that the mass of the gas in these galaxies is approximately 1 billion times that of the Sun.[12]

Methodology to observe dark bodies

Dark galaxies contain no visible stars, and are not visible using optical telescopes. The Arecibo Galaxy Environment Survey (AGES) is a current study using the Arecibo radio telescope to search for dark galaxies, which are predicted to contain detectable amounts of neutral hydrogen. The Arecibo radio telescope is useful where others are not because of its ability to detect the emission from this neutral hydrogen, specifically the 21 cm line.[13]

Alternative theories

Scientists do not have much explanation for some astronomic events, so some use the idea of a dark galaxy to explain these events. Little is known about dark galaxies, and some scientists believe a dark galaxy is actually a newly forming galaxy. One such candidate is in the Virgo cluster. This candidate contains very few stars. Scientists classify this galaxy as a newly forming galaxy, rather than a dark galaxy.[14] Scientists say that the galaxies we see today only began to create stars after dark galaxies. Based on numerous scientific assertions, dark galaxies played a big role in many of the galaxies astronomers and scientists see today. Martin Haehnel, from Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, claims that the precursor to the Milky Way galaxy was actually a much smaller bright galaxy that had merged with dark galaxies nearby to form the Milky Way we currently see. Multiple scientists agree that dark galaxies are building blocks of modern galaxies. Sebastian Cantalupo of the University of California, Santa Cruz, agrees with this theory. He goes on to say, "In our current theory of galaxy formation, we believe that big galaxies form from the merger of smaller galaxies. Dark galaxies bring to big galaxies a lot of gas, which then accelerates star formation in the bigger galaxies." Scientists have specific techniques they use to locate these dark galaxies. These techniques have the capability of teaching us more about other special events that occur in the universe; for instance, the “cosmic web”. This “web” is made of invisible filaments of gas and dark matter believed to permeate the universe, as well as “feeding and building galaxies and galaxy clusters where the filaments intersect.”[12]

Potential dark galaxies


HE0450-2958 is a quasar at redshift z=0.285. Hubble Space Telescope images showed that the quasar is located at the edge of a large cloud of gas, but no host galaxy was detected for the quasar. The authors of the Hubble study suggested that one possible scenario was that the quasar is located in a dark galaxy.[15] However, subsequent analysis by other groups found no evidence that the host galaxy is anomalously dark, and demonstrated that a normal host galaxy is probably present,[16][17] so the observations do not support the dark galaxy interpretation.

HVC 127-41-330

HVC 127-41-330 is a cloud rotating at high speed between Andromeda and the Triangulum Galaxy. Astronomer Josh Simon considers this cloud to be a dark galaxy because of the speed of its rotation and its predicted mass.[18][19]

Smith's Cloud

Smith's Cloud is a candidate to be a dark galaxy, due to its projected mass and survival of encounters with the Milky Way.[20]


Initially discovered in 2000, VIRGOHI21 was announced in February 2005 as a good candidate to be a true dark galaxy.[11][21][22][23] It was detected in 21-cm surveys, and was suspected to be a possible cosmic partner to the galaxy NGC 4254. This unusual-looking galaxy appears to be one partner in a cosmic collision, and appeared to show dynamics consistent with a dark galaxy (and apparently inconsistent with the predictions of the Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) theory).[24] However, further observations revealed that VIRGOHI21 was an intergalactic gas cloud, stripped from NGC4254 by a high speed collision.[25][26][27] The high speed interaction was caused by infall into the Virgo cluster.

See also


  1. ^ "First evidence of dark galaxies from the early Universe spotted". Zmescience.com. 2012-07-11. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  2. ^ Cannon, John M.; Martinkus, Charlotte P.; Leisman, Lukas; Haynes, Martha P.; Adams, Elizabeth A. K.; Giovanelli, Riccardo; Hallenbeck, Gregory; Janowiecki, Steven; Jones, Michael (2015-02-01). "The Alfalfa "Almost Darks" Campaign: Pilot VLA HI Observations of Five High Mass-To-Light Ratio Systems". The Astronomical Journal. 149 (2): 72. arXiv:1412.3018. Bibcode:2015AJ....149...72C. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/149/2/72. ISSN 0004-6256.
  3. ^ Oosterloo, T. A.; Heald, G. H.; De Blok, W. J. G. (2013). "Is GBT 1355+5439 a dark galaxy?". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 555: L7. arXiv:1306.6148. Bibcode:2013A&A...555L...7O. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201321965.
  4. ^ "The Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA Survey". egg.astro.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
  5. ^ Janowiecki, Steven; Leisman, Lukas; Józsa, Gyula; Salzer, John J.; Haynes, Martha P.; Giovanelli, Riccardo; Rhode, Katherine L.; Cannon, John M.; Adams, Elizabeth A. K. (2015-03-01). "(Almost) Dark HI Sources in the ALFALFA Survey: The Intriguing Case of HI1232+20". The Astrophysical Journal. 801 (2): 96. arXiv:1502.01296. Bibcode:2015ApJ...801...96J. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/801/2/96. ISSN 0004-637X.
  6. ^ Van Dokkum, Pieter; et al. (25 August 2016). "A High Stellar Velocity Dispersion and ~100 Globular Clusters For The Ultra-Diffuse Galaxy Dragonfly 44". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 828 (1): L6. arXiv:1606.06291. Bibcode:2016ApJ...828L...6V. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/828/1/L6.
  7. ^ Hall, Shannon (25 August 2016). "Ghost galaxy is 99.99 per cent dark matter with almost no stars". New Scientist. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  8. ^ Feltman, Rachael (26 August 2016). "A new class of galaxy has been discovered, one made almost entirely of dark matter". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  9. ^ a b Fraser Cain (2007-06-14). "No Stars Shine in This Dark Galaxy". Universetoday.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  10. ^ "Arecibo Survey Produces Dark Galaxy Candidate". Spacedaily.com. 2006-04-07. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  11. ^ a b Stuart Clark. "Dark galaxy' continues to puzzle astronomers". New Scientist. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
  12. ^ a b "First Direct Detection Sheds Light On Dark Galaxies". Zmescience.com. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  13. ^ in Astronomy (2009-12-23). "Invisible Dark-Matter Galaxy has Ten Billion Xs the Mass of the Sun". Dailygalaxy.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  14. ^ "Drexler's Dark Matter Prediction Confirmation Followed His New Book". Newsblaze.com. 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  15. ^ Magain P.; et al. (2005). "Discovery of a bright quasar without a massive host galaxy". Nature. 437 (7057): 381–4. arXiv:astro-ph/0509433. Bibcode:2005Natur.437..381M. doi:10.1038/nature04013. PMID 16163349.
  16. ^ Merritt, David; et al. (2006). "The nature of the HE0450-2958 system". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 367 (4): 1746–1750. arXiv:astro-ph/0511315. Bibcode:2006MNRAS.367.1746M. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2006.10093.x.
  17. ^ Kim, Minjin; Ho, Luis; Peng, Chien; Im, Myungshin (2007). "The Host Galaxy of the Quasar HE 0450-2958". The Astrophysical Journal. 658 (1): 107–113. arXiv:astro-ph/0611411. Bibcode:2007ApJ...658..107K. doi:10.1086/510846.
  18. ^ Josh Simon (2005). "Dark Matter in Dwarf Galaxies: Observational Tests of the Cold Dark Matter Paradigm on Small Scales" (PDF): 4273. Bibcode:2005PhDT.........2S. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-13.
  19. ^ Battersby, Stephen (2003-10-20). "Astronomers find first 'dark galaxy'". New Scientist. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  20. ^ "Dark galaxy crashing into the Milky Way" (2735). New Scientist. 22 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
  21. ^ Clark, Stuart (2005-02-23). "Astronomers claim first 'dark galaxy' find". NewScientist.com news service. Retrieved 2006-10-26.
  22. ^ Shiga, David (2005-02-26). "Ghostly Galaxy: Massive, dark cloud intrigues scientists". Science News Online. 167 (9): 131. doi:10.2307/4015891. JSTOR 4015891. Retrieved 2008-09-14.
  23. ^ Britt, Roy (2005-02-23). "First Invisible Galaxy Discovered in Cosmology Breakthrough". Space.com.
  24. ^ Funkhouser, Scott (2005). "Testing MOND with VirgoHI21". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 364 (1): 237. arXiv:astro-ph/0503104. Bibcode:2005MNRAS.364..237F. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2005.09565.x.
  25. ^ Kent, Brian R.; Giovanelli, Riccardo; Haynes, Martha P.; Saintonge, Amélie; Stierwalt, Sabrina; Balonek, Thomas; Brosch, Noah; Catinella, Barbara; Koopmann, Rebecca A. (2007-08-01). "Optically Unseen H I Detections toward the Virgo Cluster Detected in the Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA Survey". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 665 (1): L15–L18. Bibcode:2007ApJ...665L..15K. doi:10.1086/521100. ISSN 0004-637X.
  26. ^ Duc, Pierre-Alain; Bournaud, Frederic (2008-02-01). "Tidal Debris from High-Velocity Collisions as Fake Dark Galaxies: A Numerical Model of VIRGOHI 21". The Astrophysical Journal. 673 (2): 787–797. arXiv:0710.3867. Bibcode:2008ApJ...673..787D. doi:10.1086/524868. ISSN 0004-637X.
  27. ^ Haynes, Martha P.; Giovanelli, Riccardo; Kent, Brian R. (2007). "NGC 4254: An Act of Harassment Uncovered by the Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA Survey". Astrophysical Journal. 665 (1): L19–22. arXiv:0707.0113. Bibcode:2007ApJ...665L..19H. doi:10.1086/521188.

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Blue tomato

Blue tomatoes, sometimes referred to as purple tomatoes, are tomatoes that have been bred to produce high levels of anthocyanins, a class of pigments responsible for the blue and purple colours of many fruits, including blueberries, blackberries and chokeberries. Anthocyanins have been suggested to have health benefits because of their antioxidant properties. Some of these tomatoes have been commercialized under the names "Indigo Rose" and "SunBlack".

Coma Filament

Coma Filament is a galaxy filament. The filament contains the Coma Supercluster of galaxies and forms a part of the CfA2 Great Wall.

Dark matter

Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter that is thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe, and about a quarter of its total energy density. The majority of dark matter is thought to be non-baryonic in nature, possibly being composed of some as-yet undiscovered subatomic particles. Its presence is implied in a variety of astrophysical observations, including gravitational effects that cannot be explained unless more matter is present than can be seen. For this reason, most experts think dark matter to be ubiquitous in the universe and to have had a strong influence on its structure and evolution. Dark matter is called dark because it does not appear to interact with observable electromagnetic radiation, such as light, and is thus invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum, making it extremely difficult to detect using usual astronomical equipment.The primary evidence for dark matter is that calculations show that many galaxies would fly apart instead of rotating, or would not have formed or move as they do, if they did not contain a large amount of unseen matter. Other lines of evidence include observations in gravitational lensing, from the cosmic microwave background, from astronomical observations of the observable universe's current structure, from the formation and evolution of galaxies, from mass location during galactic collisions, and from the motion of galaxies within galaxy clusters. In the standard Lambda-CDM model of cosmology, the total mass–energy of the universe contains 5% ordinary matter and energy, 27% dark matter and 68% of an unknown form of energy known as dark energy. Thus, dark matter constitutes 85% of total mass, while dark energy plus dark matter constitute 95% of total mass–energy content.Because dark matter has not yet been observed directly, if it exists, it must barely interact with ordinary baryonic matter and radiation, except through gravity. The primary candidate for dark matter is some new kind of elementary particle that has not yet been discovered, in particular, weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMPs), or gravitationally-interacting massive particles (GIMPs). Many experiments to directly detect and study dark matter particles are being actively undertaken, but none has yet succeeded. Dark matter is classified as cold, warm, or hot according to its velocity (more precisely, its free streaming length). Current models favor a cold dark matter scenario, in which structures emerge by gradual accumulation of particles.

Although the existence of dark matter is generally accepted by the scientific community, some astrophysicists, intrigued by certain observations that do not fit the dark matter theory, argue for various modifications of the standard laws of general relativity, such as modified Newtonian dynamics, tensor–vector–scalar gravity, or entropic gravity. These models attempt to account for all observations without invoking supplemental non-baryonic matter.

Dark matter halo

A dark matter halo is a theoretical component of a galaxy that envelops the galactic disc and extends well beyond the edge of the visible galaxy. The halo's mass dominates the total mass. Thought to consist of dark matter, halos have not been observed directly. Their existence is inferred through their effects on the motions of stars and gas in galaxies. Dark matter halos play a key role in current models of galaxy formation and evolution. The dark matter halo is not fully explained by the presence of massive compact halo objects (MACHOs).

Dragonfly 44

Dragonfly 44 is an ultra diffuse galaxy in the Coma Cluster. Observations of the velocity dispersion suggest a mass of about one trillion solar masses, about the same as the mass of the Milky Way; the galaxy shows no evidence of rotation. This is also consistent with about 90 globular clusters observed around Dragonfly 44. However, the galaxy emits only 1% of the light emitted by the Milky Way. The galaxy was discovered with the Dragonfly Telephoto Array.To determine the amount of dark matter in this galaxy, they used the DEIMOS instrument installed on Keck II to measure the velocities of stars for 33.5 hours over a period of six nights so they could determine the galaxy’s mass.

The scientists then used the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph on the 8-m Gemini North telescope to reveal a halo of spherical clusters of stars around the galaxy’s core.In August 2016, astronomers reported that this galaxy might be made almost entirely of dark matter.

Dwarf galaxy problem

The dwarf galaxy problem, also known as the missing satellites problem, arises from numerical cosmological simulations that predict the evolution of the distribution of matter in the universe. Dark matter seems to cluster hierarchically and in ever increasing number counts for smaller-and-smaller-sized halos. However, although there seem to be enough observed normal-sized galaxies to account for this distribution, the number of dwarf galaxies is orders of magnitude lower than expected from simulation. For comparison, there were observed to be around 38 dwarf galaxies in the Local Group, and only around 11 orbiting the Milky Way, (for a detailed and more up to date list see List of Milky Way's satellite galaxies) yet one dark matter simulation predicted around 500 Milky Way dwarf satellites.There are two main alternatives to resolving this problem. One is that the smaller halos do exist but only a few of them end up becoming visible because they have not been able to attract enough baryonic matter to create a visible dwarf galaxy. In support of this, Keck observations in 2007 of eight newly discovered ultra-faint Milky Way dwarf satellites showed that six were around 99.9% dark matter (with a mass-to-light ratio of about 1000). Other solutions may be that dwarf galaxies tend to be merged into or tidally stripped apart by larger galaxies due to complex interactions. This tidal stripping has been part of the problem in identifying dwarf galaxies in the first place, which is an extremely difficult task since these objects have low surface brightness and are highly diffused, so much that they are virtually unnoticeable.

Final Horizon

Final Horizon is a tower defense video game developed and published by British independent studio Eiconic Games for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita and distributed through PlayStation Network. It was released on December 4, 2014 in North America and December 5, 2014 in Europe and Australia. A downloadable add-on pack titled Dark Galaxy was released alongside the game.


HE0450-2958 is an unusual quasar. It has been called the "naked quasar" and the "quasar without a home" because it appears to lack a host galaxy. It is estimated to lie approximately one billion parsecs away.

HVC 127-41-330

HVC 127-41-330 is a high-velocity cloud. The three numbers that compose its name indicate, respectively, the galactic longitude and latitude, and velocity towards Earth in km/s. It is 20,000 light years in diameter and is located 2.3 million light years (700 kiloparsecs) from Earth, between M31 and M33. This cloud of neutral hydrogen (detectable via 21 cm H-I emissions), unlike other HVCs shows a rotational component and dark matter. 80% of the mass of the cloud is dark matter. It is also the first HVC discovered not associated with the Milky Way galaxy or subgroup (subcluster).

Astronomer Josh Simon considers it a candidate for being a dark galaxy. With its rotation, it may be a very low density dwarf galaxy of unused hydrogen (no stars), a remnant of the formation of the Local Group.

Illustris project

The Illustris project is an ongoing series of astrophysical simulations run by an international collaboration of scientists. The aim is to study the processes of galaxy formation and evolution in the universe with a comprehensive physical model. Early results are described in a number of publications following widespread press coverage. The project publicly released all data produced by the simulations in April, 2015. A followup to the project, IllustrisTNG, was presented in 2017.

Machiko Soga

Machiko Soga (曽我 町子, Soga Machiko, March 18, 1938 – May 7, 2006) was a Japanese voice actress and actress.

Messier 99

Messier 99 or M99, also known as NGC 4254, is a grand design spiral galaxy in the northern constellation Coma Berenices approximately 15 megaparsecs (49 megalight-years) in distance from the Milky Way. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain on March 17, 1781. The discovery was then reported to Charles Messier, who included the object in the Messier Catalogue of comet-like objects. Messier 99 was one of the first galaxies in which a spiral pattern was seen. This pattern was first identified by Lord Rosse in the spring of 1846.This galaxy has a morphological classification of SA(s)c, indicating a pure spiral shape with loosely wound arms. It has a peculiar shape with one normal looking arm and an extended arm that is less tightly wound. The galaxy is inclined by 42° to the line-of-sight with a major axis position angle of 68°. Four supernovae have been observed in this galaxy: SN 1967H (type II), 1972Q, 1986I (type II), and 2014L (type Ic).A bridge of neutral hydrogen gas links NGC 4254 with VIRGOHI21, an HI region and a possible dark galaxy. The gravity from the latter may have distorted M99 and drawn out the gas bridge, as the two galaxy-sized objects may have had a close encounter before they went their separate ways. However, VIRGOHI21 may instead be tidal debris from an interaction with the lenticular galaxy NGC 4262 some 280 million years ago. It is expected that the drawn out arm will relax to match the normal arm once the encounter is over.

While not classified as a starburst galaxy, M99 has a star formation activity three times larger than other galaxies of similar Hubble type that may have been triggered by the encounter. M99 is likely entering the Virgo Cluster for the first time and is located at the periphery of the cluster at a projected separation of 3.7°, or around one megaparsec, from the cluster center at Messier 87. The galaxy is undergoing ram-pressure stripping as it moves through the intracluster medium.

NGC 1156

NGC 1156 is a dwarf irregular galaxy in the Aries constellation of the type ibm. It is considered a Magellanic-type irregular. The galaxy has a larger than average core, and contains zones of contra-rotating gas. The counter-rotation is thought to be the result of tidal interactions with another gas rich galaxy some time in the past.

The AGES survey has discovered a candidate dark galaxy close to NGC 1156, one of only a few so far found.

It has a H II nucleus.

Rocket Robin Hood

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Smith's Cloud

Smith's Cloud is a high-velocity cloud of hydrogen gas located in the constellation Aquila at Galactic coordinates l = 39°, b = −13°. The cloud was discovered in 1963 by Gail Bieger, née Smith, who was an astronomy student at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

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Kenji Ohba and Hiroshi Watari reprised their roles as Gavan and Sharivan, respectively. Takuo Kawamura took over as the voice of Shaider, as Hiroshi Tsuburaya died in 2001.

Ultra diffuse galaxy

An ultra diffuse galaxy (UDG) is an extremely low luminosity galaxy, the first example of which was discovered in the nearby Virgo Cluster by Allan Sandage and Bruno Binggeli in 1984. Such a galaxy may have the same size and mass as the Milky Way but a visible star count of only 1%. Their lack of luminosity is due to the lack of star-forming gas in the galaxy. This results in old stellar populations.Some ultra diffuse galaxies found in the Coma Cluster, about 330 million light years from Earth, have diameters of 60 kly (18 kpc) (more than half the size of our galaxy) with 1% of the stars of the Milky Way Galaxy. The distribution of ultra diffuse galaxies in the Coma Cluster is the same as luminous galaxies; this suggests that the cluster environment strips the gas from the galaxies, while allowing them to populate the cluster the same as more luminous galaxies. The similar distribution in the higher tidal force zones suggests a larger dark matter fraction to hold the galaxies together under the higher stress.Dragonfly 44, a ultra diffuse galaxy in the Coma Cluster, is one example. Observations of the rotational speed suggest a mass of about one trillion solar masses, about the same as the mass of the Milky Way. This is also consistent with about 90 globular clusters observed around Dragonfly 44. However, the galaxy emits only 1% of the light emitted by the Milky Way. On 25 August 2016, astronomers reported that Dragonfly 44 may be made almost entirely of dark matter. In 2018 the same authors reported the discovery of a dark matter-free UDG (NGC 1052-DF2, which was already identified on photoplates by Igor Karachentsev) based on velocity measurements of ~10 globular cluster system. The authors concluded that this may rule out modified gravity theories like MOND, but other theories such as the External Field Effect are also possibilities.

Ursa Major Filament

Ursa Major Filament is a galaxy filament. The filament is connected to the CfA Homunculus, a portion of the filament forms a portion of the "leg" of the Homunculus.


VIRGOHI21 is an extended region of neutral hydrogen (HI) in the Virgo cluster discovered in 2005. Analysis of its internal motion indicates that it may contain a large amount of dark matter, as much as a small galaxy. Since VIRGOHI21 apparently contains no stars, this would make it one of the first detected dark galaxies. Skeptics of this interpretation argue that VIRGOHI21 is simply a tidal tail of the nearby galaxy NGC 4254.

Active nuclei
Energetic galaxies
Low activity
See also
Forms of dark matter
Hypothetical particles
Theories and objects
Search experiments
Potential dark galaxies

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